Parks board: Keep alcohol policy same

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Monday voted unanimously to recommend keeping the city’s general policy banning alcohol in the parks as is. However, it supported expanding the parks where people can transfer liquor licenses.

Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Director Jay Hutchison said the current policy allows alcohol to be served by permit only at Snyder Fields, the Albert Lea Armory, the Freeborn County Fairgrounds and City Arena, but at all other parks it is prohibited.

The board on Monday recommended that this list be expanded to include Fountain Lake Park, Bancroft Bay Park and Edgewater Park, which has a cottage and new pavilion.

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The board recommended no changes for general residents who wish to go to a park on their own or as a family with a few beers or a bottle of wine. Doing so is not allowed, though the rule is seldom enforced when consumers do not appear drunk or unruly.

The issue will come before the Albert Lea City Council for an official vote at its next meeting on Oct. 25.

The City Council directed the board to review the policy after the Albert Lea Lakes Foundation requested to serve alcohol at its annual Party for the Lakes at Edgewater Park earlier this summer. Under the current policy, this is not allowed, either.

Options include opening up all the parks for alcohol use, opening up only certain parks for alcohol use, requiring people to have a permit for an event at a park where alcohol is served, limiting the amount of alcohol that is brought into a park, or requiring that there be no intoxication in the parks, among others.

The city had been looking at Rochester’s city ordinance, which allows people to bring limited amounts of alcohol.

The concern has been finding a balance that will encourage people to use the parks but at the same time have an environment that is conducive for families with children.